Bradley County hires deputy reported to have given alcohol to teens

Officials say Tabor meets all requirements for job

Staff Photo by Ben Benton / The Bradley County Sheriff's Office is seen Jan. 5, 2023.

A former Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputy found to have provided alcohol to minors in a 2013 internal investigation has been hired by the Bradley County Sheriff's Office as a patrol deputy.

Justin Tabor had worked at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office for about four years when misconduct allegations involving teenagers -- some of whom were part of the Sheriff's Office Explorer Post program -- arose accusing Tabor of providing alcohol to teens on more than one occasion, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives.

Department investigators said Tabor, who started working at the department in 2009, also slept in the same bed as a girl in the program but there was no proof they had a sexual relationship before she turned 18. Parents involved declined to pursue charges against Tabor, and officials said alcohol was not provided at any of the Explorer-sponsored events.

The investigation was started after the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office referred the matter to the Sheriff's Office to handle administratively, officials said at the time.

The Explorer Post program is open to youths between ages 14 and 21 and allows participants to explore law enforcement careers through a supervised community policing program, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office website and social media page. The program is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.

Following the probe in 2013, Tabor was suspended without pay for 132 hours, placed on probation for a year and reassigned from patrol to the jail, archives show. On Wednesday, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office General Counsel Brian Bush said in an email that Tabor worked at the department from Oct. 12, 2009, to March 1, 2015.

Tabor could not be reached for comment.

Bradley County officials this week acknowledged Tabor was hired recently and is currently in training, agency spokesman Paul Allen said Tuesday in an email.

Allen said Tabor is enrolled in a three-month on-the-job training program with a field training officer from the department's patrol division.

"Our administration is aware of the past allegations from 2013 concerning Tabor," Allen said in an emailed statement. "As with all applicants, our agency conducts a thorough background check. Justin Tabor met all of the qualifications for employment required by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission."

Allen said background checks also use other sources of information.

"Internal investigations do not appear on the criminal history portion of background checks," Allen said. "However, prior employment contact or other public search queries, such as Google, may reveal such investigations."

Findings from those investigations are considered in hiring decisions, he said.

As a patrol officer, Tabor would be in contact with young people.

"By nature of the job, law enforcement officers may come in contact with people of all ages, from infants to elderly," Allen said.

Allen noted the department is hiring and urged anyone interested to look for more information on jobs on the department's official website.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.